Open Gallery

Ford F-150 (2015 - present): Review, Specs and Problems

Take a good long look at the latest generation Ford F-150 because it is a milestone model for the Blue Oval. The first F-Series pickup rolled off the production line in 1948, and now it’s reached its thirteenth generation when it’s not only Ford’s best selling model, but also the first pick of the US car buyer.

In fact, it’s been at the top of the American sales charts for over 40 years, 30 of which were spent at the very top, in first place. Ford reckons it’s shifted some 26-million so far.

The thirteenth-gen model marks a big departure for the series, as it’s switched to using aluminum for its strucutre, instead of more coventional steel. This has obvious benefits in terms of weight and therefor fuel efficiency, as well as towing capacity, yet some are fearing the higher repair costs associated with aluminum vehicles.

Even so, it’s maintained its US sales leadership after its first year of sale, and the benefits of the new aluminum construction were felt by buyers in terms of handling and fuel efficiency.


Pros & Cons
Strong Points

Pros


Strong Points
  • existence of the super hot Raptor model
  • good quality interior
  • good value for money
  • excellent crash worthiness
  • practicality and usability

Recommended Versions
Strong Points

Cons


Weak Points
  • extra cost of aluminum repairs in the event of a crash
  • EcoBoost engines aren’t that eco
  • the V8 engine is not worth having over larger of the two V6 EcoBoost units

Stay Away From
  • 3.5-liter EcoBoost (first-gen)
Strong Points

Attention


Known Problems & Recalls
  • 2016 MY recall for 3,700 F-150 trucks with multicontour seats which may affect proper passenger airbag deployment
  • 2016 MY recall for 3,218 F-150 Dearborn-built trucks to replace front safety belt retractor and pretensioner assembly
  • 2016 MY recall for 12,300 F-150 trucks whose steering upper I-shaft may detach and cause a complete loss of steering
  • Uncomfortable headrests that push head too far forward for most drivers and may cause neck pains
  • Optional Adaptive Cruise Control may detect inexistent obstacle and randomly apply the brakes
  • Some drivers reported EcoBoost engines simply cutting off in mid-use
  • Some drivers reported complete or partial brake failures after a few thousand miles of use
  • Some drivers noticed issues with the driver’s side door latch; it doesn’t lock properly and some have reported it opening on the move

Car Details
Powertrain

Four engine options are currently available for the F-150, regardless of version. Excluding the special V6 unit that powers the Raptor, regular F-150s can be had with a a non-turbo 3.5-liter V6 with 253 lb-ft, 2.7-liter turbo V6 with 375 lb-ft, a 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo with 470 lb-ft or a 5.0-liter V8 with 387 lb-ft.

The transmission for most power plants is a six-speed automatic, or a new ten-speed unit for the 3.5-liter EcoBoost which promises excellent efficiency, as well as a manual-shift mode.


Handling

With a live rear axle and leaf springs, the F-150 isn’t expected to be that much of a handler on the road, although in Raptor guise you get a very pleasant sense of pummeling any road into submission... even one that’s already smooth.

However, all factored in, the F-150 is actually quite comfy on the move, and this combined with the decent materials used to trim the cabin, it’s definitely not a bad place to travel in.


Safety

The F-150 scored very highly in all areas tested by the Insurance Istitute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Structurally speaking, that is, the truck has no weak spot, but its score is not perfect.

It loses points for its only basic available crash prevention equipment (which is only optional anyway) while its headlights are rated as “Poor” because they not only missed the mark in terms of illumination distance, but also by not having any cornering or high beam assist tech.

At least it gets optional inflatable seat belts for rear occupants.

Comfort

Reviewers have been raving on about just how good the F-150 is to drive on the road due to its high levels of comfort. Its suspension is compliant and the seats are reportedly great too, especially on higher-trimmed models with leather upholstery and cooling.


Quality

As far as pickups in its segment go, the F-150 is very well built out of upmarket materials. Compare it to a regular family car, and that impression is slightly dulled, but even in that kind of company the F-150 would not bow its head in shame.

Assembly quality is also pretty good, and so far owners have not reported any kinds of problems caused by the way it’s put together.


Practicality

The F-150’s cabin is packed chockfull of storage options, from numerous cup holders to cubbies and the massive center console compartment and glove box. Models with two rows of doors (Supercab and Supercrew) gain extra storage compartments underneath the rear seats.


Infotainment

The F-150 comes with Ford’s Sync3 system which while better than MyFord Touch, still lags behind the competition... literally, because the screen has actual lag when responding to inputs. It really is an average infotainment solution.

Efficiency

Don’t expect to even come near what Ford claims its EcoBoost-powered variants can achieve. Many say the 2.7-liter V6 is the pick of the range as it not only provides great in-gear shove, but also returns strong efficiency numbers - a two-wheel drive-only model Ford says should average 22 mpg (10.7 l/100km).

It’s all but impossible to achieve that figure on normal roads in normal driving conditions, but you will see numbers close to that on the trip computer if you do a lot of highway miles.

Regarding the other power plants, the Blue Oval says the 3.5-liter non-turbo should average 19 mpg, the twin-turbo 3.5-liter 20 mpg and the V8 18 mpg; the all-wheel drive-only Raptor is rated at 16 mpg average.


Equipment

Base XL trim F-150s don’t come with too much in the way of standard features. You get cloth seats, manual air-con, just a regular radio with audio jack input (no SYNC), a tilt-and-telescoping wheel and two 12v outlets.

On top of this there are a few features you definitely want, like automatic climate control, rubber floor mats, cruise control, the smart MyKey and all-around view camera system; you could also go for Pro Trailer Backup Assist if you’re planning on doing many highway miles.


Acquisition

There’s a reason why the F-150 is as popular as it is and has remained the top seller in the US. It offers exactly what its buyers are looking for: a high driving position and feeling of security, a strong lineup of engines, endless practicality, excellent towing ratings and decent style - this last one is especially handsome for something designed to be utilitarian.

The only think you need to be aware are the possible higher repair costs if you damage the aluminum body, but other than that it cannot and should not be overlooked in the segment.

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Andrei Nedelea
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